Cubs Claim T-Daddy Off Waivers
Carrie Muskat reports that the Cubs have claimed 25-year old RH hitting LF-RF-1B Thomas Neal off waivers from the New York Yankees. Neal had been Designated for Assignment by the Yankees last Friday to make room on their 40-man roster for OF Curtis Granderson, who was reinstated from the 60-day DL.
The beefy (6'2 220) Neal was a 36th round draft pick of the San Francisco Giants out of Riverside CC in 2005 and was signed as a "Draft & Follow" the following May, receiving a $220K bonus (equivalent to what was 4th round money at the time) just a week prior to the 2006 June draft. He missed most of the 2007 season after undergoing shoulder surgery.
Neal is a lifetime 301/377/459 hitter in 701 minor league games over eight seasons (2006-13), belting 40+ doubles twice (2009-10) while a member of the Giants organization. He was rated the Giants #4 prospect (behind only Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, and Zach Wheeler) and #96 overall by Baseball America pre-2010 after hitting 337/431/579 with 22 HR & 90 RBI and 41 doubles for A+ San Jose (California League) in 2009, and then he was rated the Giants' #7 prospect by BA pre-2011 after hitting 291/359/440 for AA Richmond (Eastern) in 2010.
Neal was traded to the Cleveland Indians for INF Orlando Cabrera in a deadline deal on July 30, 2011, and he received a brief trial with the Tribe last September, hitting 217/250/261 in nine MLB games (24 PA). He was released by Cleveland last January 12th, and was signed to a minor league contract by the Yankees six days later.
Neal hit 325/391/411 (albeit with only with only two HR) in 72 games (297 PA) at AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (International) in 2013. His contract was selected by the Yankees on June 14th, but he was optioned back to AAA ten days later. Neal will be out of minor league options next season, but he won't be eligible for salary arbitration until post-2016 and he is under club control through the 2019 season.
To make room for Neal on the MLB 40-man roster, the Cubs have transferred RHP Rafael Dolis from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL. This move is a "no brainer," because Dolis has already spent 60+ days on the 15-day DL, and time spent on the 15-day DL is applied to the required sixty days needed to complete a 60-day DL stint. So Dolis could actually be reinstated from the 60-day DL at any time, even as early as tomorrow (if the Cubs wiish to do that).
Dolis was placed on the 15-day DL on June 1st (retro to May 27th) with what was reported at the time as a "mild forearm strain," but he hasn't pitched since (not even a minor league rehab outing). Doliss was eligible for a 4th minor league option in 2013 (and it has been used), so he will be out of minor league options next season.
The Cubs will also need to make a 25-man roster move when Neal is activated. They are presently operating with 13 pitchers, so they may opt to cut back to 12.
BTW, Scott Baker's minor league rehab assignment must conclude no later than next Monday (August 12th), so the Cubs will need to decide by next Tuesday (August 13th) whether to activate him from the 60-day DL (and presumably put him in the MLB starting rotation) or just shut him down for the rest of the season. Baker has not pitched very well (so far) in his minor league rehab outings at Kane County and Daytona (12.0 IP - 20 H - 15 R - 14 ER - 8 BB - 7 K - 3 HR - 10.80 ERA - 2.33 WHIP in four GS).